Malpractice News: Operating Room and Surgical Fires
Malpractice News: Physicians and hospital surgical staffs have always been aware of the risk of fire in an operating room. That risk comes from the use of flammable materials such as gauze and disposable surgical drapes during surgery. Before the days were fire-prevention measures such as the use of sterile shoe covers with grounding strips, oxygen use in an operating room has resulted in many operating room fires where medical staffs and patients have been injured.
However, with the advent of specialized instruments to perform intricate procedures, the risk for a patient to be a victim of a flash fire has increased. Between 550 and 650 patients per year are injured in operating room fires. 20 to 30 patients suffer serious injuries or die from injuries sustained in a surgical fire.
The data on operating room fires was collected and reported by the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System. According to the 2007 report filed with the Commonwealth, a surgical fire occurs in one 87,646 operations.
The report also noted that 65 percent of the fires occurred near the patient’s upper body or airway. Approximately 70 percent of the fires were ignited by electrosurgical tools. Twenty percent of the fires were sparked by hot wires, light sources, burrs or defibrillators, while 10 percent were caused by lasers.
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